By CAROLYN SZCZEPANSKI
David Quinly is used to getting trash tossed into his yard and taking unconventional steps to protect his home turf.
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Prairie Village resident started painting anti-war signs and posting them in his front yard on Roe Avenue. Over the past five years, his slogans have included cryptic messages (“Be thankful we’re killing more of their children than they are of ours”) and obvious outrage (“Dubya- Stop murdering the poor in Iraq and help the poor in New Orleans”) in opposing American military aggression in the Middle East.
In 2003, he spotted a jogger kicking down one of his placards and called the cops as he chased the Fairway resident down the street. After being charged with criminal damage of property, the offending runner paid Quinly $500 for his lawn-sign losses. In 2005, Quinly was on the other side of the law when he was cited by the city of Prairie Village for violating the municipal sign ordinance because his placards were too big. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Quinly got the sign law struck down in district court.
But Quinly’s latest creation has nothing to do with the war. His target isn’t the president or Congress. On a placard erected this week, Quinly publicly anointed the assistant principal at Wyandotte High School a “chickenshit.”
It all started several months ago, when Quinly put up a new set of signs inspired by rising gas prices.
“I want to wake people up, make them think,” Quinly says.
Turns out, someone had a beef with Quinly’s outspoken politics. Since he erected those signs, he’s been under assault from a fast-food junkie. Every morning, the activist alleges, someone chucks the garbage from their McDonald's breakfast onto his front lawn.
At first, the longtime activist collected the debris each morning. Then, he let the trash pile up to show his disregard for the vandal. But that irked Quinly’s neighbor, so again he started collecting the Golden Arches garbage. Not to be defeated, he examined the bags for clues. The receipt showed the disgruntled commuter purchased his morning grub at the restaurant at 130th Street and State Line Road around 5:30 a.m. Then the McMuffin-muncher switched over to 119th Street and Roe.
One morning earlier this month, Quinly staked out his front drive and finally spotted the politically motivated litterbug. The man in question was driving a black GMC pickup truck. Fed up with the greasy onslaught, Quinly hopped in his car and followed his suspect until it pulled into the parking lot of Wyandotte High School. Armed with the man’s license plate number, Quinly attempted to track down the driver’s name; what he got: Robert Bayer, the school’s assistant principal.
Quinly wanted to spark some dialogue, so he decided to call Bayer out.
He says he chose the image because lobbing trash instead of engaging in debate is “a chickenshit thing to do.”
“I’m hoping he’ll see it and know he’s been made,” Quinly says. “And that he’ll stop.”
Last night, I called Bayer -- who lives south of 129th Street in a neighborhood close to the McDonald's locations listed on Quinly's recovered receipts -- to get his response to Quinly’s claims and the cartoon placard.
“I don’t even know the guy,” Bayer said, clearly surprised by the call.
You haven’t seen the sign?
“No,” he said slowly. “That’s weird. That’s, uh, bothersome.”
So, I know this is an odd question but have you been throwing McDonald's bags onto his driveway?
“Is this some kind of joke?” Bayer asked, anger starting to surface in his voice.
Before I could answer, the assistant principal hung up.